It’s Teacher Feature Thursday!
This week we are featuring Rebecca Adams. Rebecca is the Arts Enrichment Educator for kindergarten and has been working on a large mural with the children for the classroom. For inspiration, she decided to spend a day learning about Sol LeWitt. Below you will find a reflection from Rebecca and images from her lesson.
What were your topics of exploration?
We used the wall drawings of Sol LeWitt to explore the collaborative nature of large-scale artwork, and how using teamwork leads to a successful experience of the creative process in addition to an eye-popping product. This was also a technical exercise in one approach to handling a new medium (professional grade acrylic paint and medium on heavy weight watercolor paper) that mimics the skill set we will employ in painting the classroom mural. The limited palette and ‘hard line’ approach refine (fine motor) brush control and prepares participants to use color intuitively while demonstrating formal knowledge of fundamental color theory & color mixing.
What were your learning objectives? (What did you want your children to take away from the lesson?)
My primary objective was to enhance their understanding of the process required to complete large scale collaborative artworks while practicing and becoming comfortable with a new painting medium and technique. We also used rulers to anchor the underdrawings of these small paintings along with colored painter’s tape to help direct a three to four color palette. This priming technique facilitated their critical thinking skills when confronted with the “problem” of building a balanced, non-representational composition using unfamiliar tools & materials. It also gave them an opportunity to use a similar “recipe” as Sol LeWitt and expect different outcomes.
What was most successful about your lesson?
The most successful part of our lesson was watching and discussing a 10 minute video clip of studio assistants working on Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings. The magic of seeing teamwork reveal a polished, larger than human scale product helped the children connect to their own efficacy as an artistic “unit.” This conversation exercise in confidence building made teaching a combination of a new skill set more attainable. It was clear to them that communication and cooperation was far more important and effective than individual virtuosity. Another strong factor of the lesson was how the multi-sensory nature of this particular set of tools and materials kept them engaged and asking thoughtful questions throughout, while building a new vocabulary (e.g. “palette knife,” “bold,” “dull,” “transparent”) Their fine motor skills were assessed and greatly improved as well.
What could you have done differently? What recommendations would you have for another teacher trying out this lesson?
I would suggest working in small groups of about three to four children at a time. It is helpful to have a “half-finished” and a “finished” prototype on hand to show the children. I also think it is helpful to have a “conclusion” circle so that the children can see others’ artworks, ask questions, and re-review the inspiration video.
Here are a few images from their unit on Sol LeWitt:
Rebecca decided to pull a few students at a time from the classroom for this lesson so that she could have more one-on-one time with the students. Rebecca began her lesson by talking about Sol LeWitt and his work and then showed a video on his murals: “Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective” (http://youtu.be/c4cgB4vJ2XY).
She also shared with the group Sol LeWitt: 100 Views edited by Susan Cross and Denise Markonish.
Rebecca gave the children high quality acrylic paint which required the added step of using a palette knife to mix in medium to make the paint a bit more fluid. The children also needed to combine their paints together to get the color they desired.
The children really embraced the multi-step process and were able to hone their fine motor skills throughout the project! Sol LeWitt is a great way to get ready for painting their own mural in the classroom. The group will use a grid and also need to work collaboratively to create their one large scale painting.
Here is a sketch of what the children decided to include in their classroom mural.
This class had a wonderful time learning about murals! Be sure to check back for our Teacher Feature next week and watch to see the finished mural at the end of the school year!